These past few weeks have been exciting times for Pangu Raleigh! Golden Hill Charity has been hard at work prepping for our annual Qigongathon Fundraiser and board members have been focusing on continuing education opportunities by attending trauma-informed trainings.
Erin Tracy and I attended The Connection Coalition 15-hour Trauma-Informed Mindful Practice Outreach training by Jodi Weiner at Raleigh’s Blue Lotus Yoga Studio.
We learned about:
- The science behind mindful practices and how they can benefit our under-resourced youth by soothing their nervous systems and neutralizing heightened emotional states like anger or anxiety.
- How to teach clients in a respectful and empowering manner.
- How we have at our fingertips a nationwide network of like-minded teachers for connection and collaboration.
I attended The Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society’s Webinar Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven. The big take away for me was the idea of having tangible anchors present for clients to come back to if at any time they feel overwhelmed. On Friday I am taking an 8-hour Children’s Mental Health First Aid Training hosted by Youth Thrive in Downtown Raleigh. In December most of the board members will attend Pangu Shengong Advanced Retreat Training with Qi Gong Grand Master Ou Wen Wei in Fairfield, California.
Perhaps the most profound teachers have been the clients that I have already begun helping. The idea of an anchor proved its importance during the first session of Evening Mindful Meditation for Survivors of Domestic Violence. While their children sleep, survivors have the opportunity to gather and meditate 5 evenings a week with me as their guide.
Quiet breath and stillness are not always peaceful to those who suffer from PTSD or anxiety. Their trauma is just beneath “the busy” of everyday life. I observe that it weighs heavily on their hearts and bubbles up in moments of stress (expected) and surprisingly moments of quiet. How do we avoid a flashback or re-traumatization? I do not have all of the answers but the procedures that I use every second while working are – I do my best to be CAREFUL, thoughtful, respectful, quiet, observant, and kind. With this mode of operation, I zone in on my intuition or gut and ask for all the love and help from my higher-self. So now I have my anchors.
- The zone of utmost respect and care.
- Support from all the love, my higher self, the divine.
I am honest with clients about how quiet can be triggering. They are already familiar with the term trigger and I have never had to explain that quiet can be awful. They knowingly nod. We practice mindful grounding techniques like coming back to how the support of the chair they sit on feels. I assure them that they are welcome to take breaks (and they do), keep their eyes open, (open-eyed meditation works!) and we have a plant in the center of our circle and meditation music playing for clients to avert their attention to if necessary.
Boy do I have to keep my eyes and heart open. After 9 years of daily meditation and qi gong practice, thankfully I can sense if someone is agitated. Clients fidget or breathe a bit heavier as well. I repeat words like you are secure, safe, grounded, empowered, content. I suggest breaks or a time for everyone to take a mindful gaze at the plant. Each client has a donated knitted blanket that their hands rest on during meditation. I encourage them to explore the texture of the blanket. I have been thrilled to notice that clients do not really have to be prompted to step back from the mindfulness for a few moments. I usually notice their agitation and before I can advise they have already begun regrouping. When we wrap up, I observe a faraway yet satisfied looks on their faces.
The feedback has been inspiring. They tell me that they feel calm, peaceful, giddy, sleepy. Some go straight to bed. Others end up really opening up about their troubles. If sharing occurs, I interject a few breaks where I ask them how they feel right now in their heart, body, or mind. I feel honored that they allow me this space in their lives and thank, compliment them. A client told me the other day that she was arguing with her boyfriend and she started to breathe down through the soles of her feet so she could ground and stop her anger. Tears ya’ll tears!!!!!
My heart bursts with hope for her, all those who suffer without these empowering resources, and all the teachers ready to connect with students. We all win when we open our hearts to the power of hope.
Please consider attending and donating to this year’s qigongathon fundraiser. Bring friends! In addition to teaching survivors of domestic violence, we are in the planning stages of offering trauma-informed outreach internal martial arts, yoga, and meditation to our local under-resourced youth. Your donations help us remove any barriers by providing instructors directly to kids and their families.
Peace and Love, Cristen Bopp – President and Founder